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‘Mothers of the Movement’ share stories of loss at DNC

‘I’m here with Hillary Clinton because she is a leader and a mother who will say our children’s names’

Geneva Reed-Veal, Lucia McBath, Sybrina Fulton and six other “Mothers of the Movement” took the stage at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Clad mainly in black, the nine mothers used their platform to support Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and continue the conversations about police brutality and the unjust killings of African-Americans.

The mothers united while grieving the deaths of their children. Most of the incidents involved police officers.

Reed-Veal, the mother of Sandra Bland, opened by telling the audience that it had been a year since Bland was laid to rest. Bland, a 28-year-old activist from the Chicago area, was found hanged in her jail cell after being arrested during a traffic stop in Texas. Reed-Veal also said the names of six other women who died in police custody that very same month.

“I’m here with Hillary Clinton because she is a leader and a mother who will say our children’s names,” Reed-Veal added.

Through the pain of their losses, three women each took turns offering sweet sentiments about their children’s lives as other mothers stood supportively by their sides. McBath outlined the harsh realities she’s endured as the parent of an African-American son whose life she fought so hard to protect, but still couldn’t.

“I lived in fear my son would die like this,” McBath said of Jordan Davis, the 17-year-old who was murdered by a disgruntled gas station customer because of loud music in Florida. “I even warned him that because he was a young black man, he would meet people who didn’t value his life.”

Throughout the speech, the mothers also expressed how much Clinton has helped them through difficult times, which led to their decisions to stand behind the first female presidential nominee.

Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, feels Clinton “has the compassion and understanding to comfort a grieving mother.”

Martin, 17, was killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Florida. The case became one of the largest national stories and revived debates about racial profiling and court system biases after Zimmerman was found not guilty.

Fulton believes Clinton hears the mothers’ pleas for reform that could possibly make America safer.

“She has the courage to lead the fight for commonsense gun legislation,” Fulton said. “And she has a plan to repair the divide that so often exists between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

Notably absent was Samaria Rice, the mother of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was shot and killed by a police officer while playing with a toy gun in a Cleveland park. Rice has not addressed the Democratic National Convention directly, but has been vocal about her political stance. In an interview with Fusion, Rice mentioned that not one candidate is “speaking my language about police reform.”

Though Rice did not join the mothers on stage, the agony of losing her son still lingers, just as all the other mothers described.

“I will never forget that day, them taking my baby away at 12 years old,” Rice told Fusion. “I still had nourishment to do for my son. He was only 12. He had just been 12 for five months. I still had a lot of nurturing to do for him, a lot of holding and kissing on him, and stuff like that. I know just 12 years old for a boy is like a turning point. I was guiding him in the right direction. I really was. He was really not a bad kid.”

Watch the full speech here.

Maya Jones is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a native New Orleanian who enjoys long walks down Frenchmen Street and romantic dates to Saints games.